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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - May 30, 2006

From: Goldsboro, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Propagation, Transplants
Title: Transplanting an immature Sweet Bay Magnolia
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Pants: I just found what I think is a Magnolia Sweet Bay growing wild next to an oak and a pine tree in my back wooded yard. It has blooms on it and is about 2 feet tall. There are two of them next to each other. In your opinion, how do you think it would do if I replanted it to my front yard (no other tree next to it). I live in Raleigh area, NC. How should I replant it and how should I care for it?

ANSWER:

Though an adult Sweet Bay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) might be risky to move, one that's only two feet tall should present few problems. Transplanting should be done in the fall, but you should root prune now by digging down in a circle around the tree to just beyond the extent of the leaves in order to sever the more far-flung roots and circumscribe your root ball. Transplanting should be done in the morning before high temperatures have stressed the plant, and the leaves should be pruned back by half to reduce transpiration. Make sure and have the new hole dug before you remove the tree from its old hole, so that the roots aren't exposed to the air too long. Until it becomes established, regular watering will be required, but such a young plant should adjust easily to its new site with little additional care, provided it's in appropriate soil. See our Growing Conditions page for more information.

 

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